In response to growing student debt and a lackluster job market, undergraduates are opting for a do-it-yourself education in lieu of a college degree, according to a recently published New York Times article, Saying No to College. Many educators dismiss it as a dangerous trend, but for “hacksters” inspired by billionaire dropouts such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, self-directed education is a viable option. Among the pros of “hacking” higher education (which means anything from traveling, volunteer work, or collaborative peer learning groups) are a growing number of alternatives such as apprenticeships and MOOCs, a fast-track to making money, and a global classroom free of groupthink constraints. Proponents ask, “Why spend money, when you can make it?
As you can imagine, this argument has been divisive. So then we look at the cons in a speedy Time rebuttal that pokes holes in this reasoning, Top Three Flawed Arguments of the Anti-College Crowd. According to author Zac Bissonnette, the New York Times article glosses over its icons’ college experience; Bill Gates and Zuckerberg both attended college and their experience was key to their success. It exaggerates the cost of higher education (almost doubling it), doesn’t take into account the fact that nearly one-third of students leave college with no debt, and fails to acknowledge that the average debt is about $27,000. Finally, it minimizes the enduring earning power of a degree. You’re still better off with a degree—some future employers won’t even consider an application without one. And, those with a degree tend to significantly out-earn those without one, which helps folks pay off student debt. It’s a heated debate, read the pros and cons and weigh in.